Opened in 2008, the Founders Club at Pawleys Island was built over the original Sea Gull golf course, the fourth oldest Myrtle Beach golf course in the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, area, dating from 1966. The huge project was undertaken in 2006 by Thomas Walker, former lead designer for Gary Player Design.
Walker kept the hole numbers and routing the same but completely modernized the holes and reversed the front and back nines. The $7 million project included a new Lowcountry-style clubhouse.
Known as a difficult but fair par 72 course, Founders Club at Pawleys Island features 18 uniquely designed holes that measure a total of 7,007 yards. Five sets of tees allow players to choose their level of difficulty. It can be a fair challenge for the average golfer, but anyone can have a fun and satisfying game, whether you are a scratch golfer or a 25 handicap. The course is not especially long, but is strategic, which brings players back again and again to try different approaches.
Sea Gull Golf Club, originally designed by Gene Hamm, was a relatively flat course, in keeping with the style “back in the day.” Roughly 270,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved during the renovation; no outside dirt needed to be trucked in.
Now the course features sloping fairways, bunkers, elevation changes, and mounding. Natural beach sand fills the waste areas, and native grasses, such as love and bluestem, populate the mounds and waste areas. This makes for an “ocean-style” course, which gives golfers a unique coastal-feel golfing experience. Wetlands, live oaks, and pines add further aesthetic value to the course.
Cart paths are kept to a minimum, and players are given unrestricted cart access to the vast waste hazard areas. This is possible because of the excellent drainage and irrigation systems. As General Manager/Head Professional Ryan Mooney explains, “All the fairways are raised and go down into waste hazards. It gives golfers a unique experience, because 99.9% of all golf courses out there have cart paths, where you’re restricted to one side of the path. Here you can drive all over, so it makes you feel like you’re riding your cart in the sand dunes.”
Founders Club at Pawleys Island is one of the few to use Emerald Bermuda on its greens. This unique strain of grass is made to withstand the summer heat, requires less water than other grasses, and is not as grainy as other strains. While the fairways are Bermuda, the roughs are a mixture of Bermuda and Zoysia.
Our northern visitors and transplants especially appreciate our greens. In the North the grass grows straight up, but in the South it weaves itself together, so you get a very grainy feel. As a result, a putt might look like it is going one way, but because of the grain, the grass fights the ball and makes it go a different way. Our Emerald Bermuda has minimal graininess.
Two holes, # 12 and #18, involve optional forced carries, even from the women’s tee.